Nonverbal Unit: Proxemics Extra Credit Exercise

Nonverbal Unit: Proxemics Extra Credit Exercise
You may choose to do this extra credit exercise by invading the comfort zones of 3 to 5 persons.
Each experience will be worth up to 3 points each if all directions are followed. You will get close enough to
them to make them wonder what is going on, but NEVER touch them. Invading the space of a group is still
only 1 invasion. You will see the importance of the personal space boundaries we draw and how much we
depend on them, despite not necessarily finding “rules” about these written in a social manners book.
For example, you might sit at a cafeteria table (with many other tables available), choosing to be right
next to someone you don’t know. Or, you could sit in a parent’s favorite chair, acting as if nothing is wrong.
(Be careful here!) That would be territoriality rather than just closeness (proxemics), but you may do one of
those as part of this exercise if you wish. It could be eye contact on an elevator with strangers, a closeness not
expected. Since it is done out of class, it will be typed. IF you bring paper to write notes after each experience,
it will be easier and more accurate than trying to remember it.
1. First, choose at least 3 locations you usually visit and plan a “space invasion”. Give the exact location
(exactly where in which Mall or store, on which bus stop, in which cafeteria by name and in which part-food
line, at a table, etc.) It can all be done on campus or in a Mall, or elsewhere, but not 5 times in one place.
(People may complain about you!)
2. Write down important details, like exactly where you were, what time each invasion started and ended, with
whom (in general) you did the exercise: approximate age (and clues for it), gender, any uniform worn with a
clue to employment, and any clues about socio-economic status-accessories, clothing.
3. NO SPEAKING during it, but as soon as you get ANY reaction, IT IS OVER! DO NOT CONTINUE
IT MORE THAN 2-4 minutes. If no reaction is seen or heard, stop and do another person! This
might mean doing more than 5, but they will probably get more points. If you are happy with
only 3 good examples at 3 points each, you may be finished, or you could do the others another day.
BE SURE TO DEBRIEF EACH INVASION, and if the person is not enjoying this explanation, it is best to leave
the area so the person does not feel any more uncomfortable. You will write the persons(s) reaction(s). ASAP
after each is over and you are no longer with the person, write notes on what you saw and heard during the
invasion and when debriefing. Be sure to type it later.
Be competent, wise, and subtle. Enjoy this, but do not put yourself or another person in any danger. Do only in
public, and males avoid invading the space of a female, especially a mother with a child. Ladies, be careful to
avoid eye contact if it’s a male or at night, or something bad could be assumed. Think of age and what the other
person is doing, too. Some students have bee too obvious, destroying the exercise, and got no points. Be
invasive, but not threatening or rude. If anyone is upset, DO NOT “PLAY” or extend it! As soon as you notice a
verbal or nonverbal reaction, it’s over! Debrief immediately, leave, and find someone else.
An example of single-spaced, 12-font format is on the next page. It could be 2 pages, but never more. DO NOT
PARAGRAPH! I hope for specific but brief.
Example: Written Proxemics Exercise
Be specific: NOT just “the mall”, but “I sat at a table with 1 person at Lakewood Mall’s Food
Court. Other tables were empty.”
Gender, ethnicity/culture (if known, for it could affect the exercise), approximate age, any NV
clues about occupation or possible economic status from clothing/accessories. No exact example
is here as some students have tried to copy whatever I put as an example here.
Time of day and how long it lasted (2-4 minutes, using start and end times as close as possible).
“It started at 6:15PM and ended at 6:19 PM.” Time does not include debriefing.
Your exact invasion actions ( not “ I moved closer”, but “made my try touch hers on the table.”)
Verbal and nonverbal (Describe specifically and briefly exactly what the person said, did, or both.)
First apologize for any discomfort you caused and thank each person for helping you with the
personal space/boundaries extra credit exercise for your Interpersonal Communication class. Do
NOT forget to apologize then leave.